For Oscar Blandi, the sky is the limit. Literally. In addition to running a celebrity-filled salon and overseeing his namesake product line, Blandi is a skydiving aficionado, an adrenaline junkie who’s completed more than 1,500 skydiving jumps in three years. The hair guru has launched himself out of everything from commercial airlines to hot air balloons and helicopters.
This story first appeared in the March 9, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“It’s a time when you can truly live in the moment,” says Blandi. “In the air, there is nothing else you can think. Everything is new. It is beautiful; literally, just a bit of time for yourself.”
His fascination with risk-taking began as a boy in Naples, where he worked alongside his barber father in a salon. “My father was afraid I’d become a thief or a drug addict, so he took me to the gym and got me involved in sports,” says Blandi, who was active in judo, wrestling, swimming and motocross from a young age.
Today, Blandi compares escaping to “the zone” while hurling himself into the wild blue as similar to his mind-set when tending to the heads of his A-list patrons at the Madison Avenue salon he opened in 1996. “It’s that same feeling that no one else is around. I am in the moment and I love what I am
doing,” says Blandi, who counts Kelly Ripa, Jessica Biel and Naomi Watts among his client base.
In 2003, Blandi introduced his eponymous hair care line; by 2010, industry sources estimated the range was generating $10 million in wholesale sales, thanks to star products like Pronto Dry Shampoo. Blandi sold the brand in June, 2011, to TPR Holdings for an undisclosed amount, but stayed on as chief creative controller. His current focus remains the salon—and, of course, adventure.
“A lot of people suffer because they don’t give their minds a rest, so I do crazy things to overwhelm my thoughts,” says the entrepreneur, who also skis, wakeboards, bikes and races cars and motorcycles. “When you go up in the plane, everything else goes away. You don’t think about work or a bad day—nothing can take you down [when you’re] in the sky.”
Blandi recently took a dive with the Golden Knights, the U.S. Army’s official parachute team, and his next goal is to jump off a cliff in a specially designed flying jumpsuit, called a wingsuit. Although he’s had a few run-ins with malfunctions—one time his parachute didn’t deploy and caused him to spin out of control—Blandi has no plans to shy away from the sport or anything else that crosses his path. “I can’t help it,” he says. “I have to master something my way and I won’t stop until I feel comfortable with it. It’s part of Italian culture to never give up. Even if I’m afraid, I’ve got to do it anyway.”